125 years
125 years

“As we mark 125 years, we look forward to building on our strengths, the greatest of which is our people.”

Our story

Travel through time to discover our Canadian roots.

Slide 2


We celebrate 125 years!

A rectangular cake as a symbol of celebration for Great-West Life’s 125th anniversary.
Three men in business clothing going down a blue yellow and pink slide. People wait in line to ride a Ferris wheel.


We celebrate United Way

Winnipeg employees were treated to a Ferris wheel, carnival games, mini doughnuts and more in honour of United Way! The Winnipeg office achieved an all-time high in contributions to United Way.

Slide 3


A leader in workplace mental health

The Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace is launched, supporting initiatives and research and developing tools and resources designed to help with the prevention, intervention and management of workplace mental health issues.

The façade of a building bathed in sunshine, with two Canadian flags mounted.
A desktop computer monitor opened to the for Workplace strategies for mental health website, as it first appeared at launch.


Canada Life joins the Great-West family

Canada Life - the country's first life insurance company - joins our group of companies.

Slide 5


Turning point

London Life Insurance Company joins our group of companies - a watershed event in Canada's life insurance industry.

Slide 6


A new era for employees

On May 25, 1983, we opened the doors of our new head office building in Winnipeg. More than 630 employees from offsite locations joined their colleagues in the expanded campus.

A woman in a blue dress cuts a green ribbon at a ceremony.
A man in a suit stands at a podium giving a speech with people in suits. A room full of group in dim lighting at a reception, with three men in a suit and a woman in a white outfit in the foreground. Green ribbon

Slide 7

The Great-West Life office in Denver with people walking by during the day. Four men smiling in front of an oversized chain with a lock on it at the opening of Great-West Life’s Denver office. A black Polaroid camera.


Denver headquarters

The company's U.S. headquarters open in Denver.

Slide 8

Paul Desmarais Sr., and his two sons, Paul Jr. and Andre, in conversation walking on a busy street. A profile of Paul Desmarais, Sr.


Standing strong with Power Corporation

Power Corporation becomes Great-West Life's significant shareholder.


Success is key!

The company registers the Great-West Life key trademark as its corporate symbol.

A white envelope with Great-West Life written in green on the flap.

Slide 9


Our first computer

The first computer is installed. The IBM 650 is the first of its kind in Western Canada.

A woman seated at a chair, working on the first computer that Great-West Life owned. Magnetic tape was the data storage system used on the Great-West Life’s fist computer. An example of the punched card used in the Great-West Life’s first computer.

Slide 10


New markets on the horizon

Great-West becomes the first Canadian company to enter the accident and health insurance business.

Two women working at a desk, while four others are sorting files in a wall unit.

Slide 11


A popular campaign

The “Mother and Child” billboard campaign is introduced, becoming one of the company’s most popular.

Slide 12


Women make their mark

The first female member of the Hundred Thousand Club, celebrating Great-West agent sales success, was Mrs. I.A. Joness of Fort William, Ontario.

An 1874 journal with the Great-West Life $100,000 club seal.

Slide 13


Breaking ground

Great-West enters the new field of group insurance – one of the first Canadian companies to do so.


Blueprint for success

The company’s first head office is built in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, on the corner of Rorie St. and Lombard Ave.

Slide 14


First U.S. office

The first U.S. office opens in North Dakota.

Slide 15


Nationwide coverage

Great-West Life is now represented in every province across Canada.


First claim paid

The first death claim is submitted in July, for an insured who was killed in a bicycle accident. The $1,000 his wife received reportedly saved her from destitution.

A red Great-West Life insurance pamphlet from the 1890s.


Pioneering spirit

The Great-West Life Assurance Company launches in Winnipeg by founder Jeffry Hall Brock as a western-based alternative to eastern competitors. The company is incorporated on August 28 after petitioning the federal government.

A portrait of Jeffry Hall Brock, the founder of Great-West Life, wearing a suit from the late 1800s. The signature of Jeffry Hall Brock, the founder of Great West Life.
  1. Now
  2. 2000
  3. 1990
  4. 1980
  5. 1970
  6. 1960
  7. 1950
  8. 1940
  9. 1930
  10. 1920
  11. 1910
  12. 1900
  13. 1890

Our communities

We have long histories and deep roots in our communities. Every day our employees and distribution associates serve our customers and our communities and deliver on our promises.

After 125 years in business, we're still building strong communities together!

Our people

Read some highlights from our employees, customers and advisors.

Unique ways advisors travelled


Thank you so very, very much for going the extra mile! I slept like a baby last night. Sincerely, from our hearts, thank-you!

Regina J

Had an excellent, cheerful, helpful customer service interaction with @greatwestlifeca. Very friendly, and she solved my problem. Huge kudos.

Sameer V

I love you @greatwestlifeca thanks for depositing my claims in less than 24 hours!


I just need to take a moment to thank Great-West Life for all you do for me. You have literally helped me save my life. My case manager and medical coordinator are amazing and I know they genuinely care about me and my well being.

Sierra W

Our workforce today


Share your story

Do you have a favourite story or memory you want to share? Send it to us. Your story could be featured on our website or on our social media pages.

If you want to share stories in social media, use #GreatWest125.

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